Why did they shoot Tom 17 times?

K is in her room reading an essay about The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan when Z climbs on her bed.

Z: I want to talk about Ch. 28 [of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee].

K looks at him.

Z: Bob Ewell dies at the end. You know that, right?

K thinks for a moment.

K: Oh, yeah. Boo Radley stabs him.

Z looks funny.

K: Uh, well, there is speculation that…

Z: I didn’t know that. At the end of the chapter it doesn’t say that.

K thinks uh, oh, I spoiled it.

Z: Scout dresses up like a ham and she falls asleep. Why did they shoot Tom Robinson 17 times? I already know, but it was unnecessary. You know Link Deas? He gives Tom’s wife a job after he dies. He defends her because she has to walk miles out of the way to avoid the Ewell’s house.

K: Why do you think they shot Tom so many times?

Z: I don’t know. I guess it was racism. But it only takes one shot to kill a guy unless you shoot him in the leg.

K: What were you thinking when you read that part?

Z: I was expecting him to be killed, but not shot 17 times. He was pretty much doomed from the start as soon as the lady said he raped her. I like the part when they asked him why he ran.

K: Why?

Z: It would have been interesting to see how people reacted to what he said.